David Worboys: No more jokes about Texans?

Texans are not afraid of guns but are terrified of catching a virus from Mexican beer

Texans are not afraid of guns but are terrified of catching a virus from Mexican beer. Image - David Worboys/Corona

I have just heard of yet another tragic mass shooting in Texas; this time eight people were gunned to their deaths in a shopping centre in Dallas. This is the city where President Kennedy was assassinated sixty years ago. And yet, the gun lobby enjoys majority support, nowhere more than in this gun-toting state. Explaining to Texans that universal gun ownership equals innocent deaths is like trying to teach a giraffe to play basketball.

An American acquaintance told me that there are proposals in some states to monitor and discourage jokes about Texans. If this is true then political correctness is alive and flourishing.

Jokes have abounded about other groups of people – often those of neighbouring nationalities. They have been directed against Dutch, Norwegians and Scots (for perceived meanness) and Americans, Irish, Poles and East Silesians (for alleged stupidity). And, of course, the Texans.

The foreman on a building site in Texas shouted “Hey Chip! Bring me a wheelbarrow”. Five minutes later Chip returned, wheeling a large wheelbarrow with a smaller one inside it. “Chip! I asked for one wheelbarrow, not two”. “Well, did you expect I was gonna carry the darn thing?” OK; this may or may not have happened.

However, I have personally met a Texan who believed that Jesus Christ was an American, and I know he wasn´t joking. Surveys have shown that a disturbing number of Americans think that both Jesus Christ and Christopher Columbus were Americans. And then we had the reaction to Coronavirus. In Texas, there was a dramatic drop in the sale of Corona Mexican beer for fear that it would pass on the virus.

But we have learned so much from our American friends, as we adopt their culture – not just by murdering people in schools. We eat hamburgers, drink beer from bottles, watch American football, become obese, hold hot gospel church services and address our friends as “you guys”. We choose an American slavery song for England´s rugby world cup theme (“Swing low, sweet chariot”). In 1996 Leeds rugby team was renamed Leeds Rhinos in deference to American football teams such as Chicago Bulls. And the once-stoic British now weep during television interviews.

There is a difference between the evolution and the mutilation of a language. The British have amusing expressions such as “Everton are pants” and  “Johnson is toast”. The misuse of a word or the invention of a new one is another matter. A loo or lavatory is not a “bathroom” or ”restroom”. “He sucks” should not mean he´s unpleasant. “Woke” should not mean socially aware. “And stuff” should not mean etcetera.  “Cool” should not mean impressive.

Nevertheless, most of the “progress” in recent years has been in technology. Through computers, smartphones, numerous information and communication platforms and space research, we can achieve so much without the intervention of humans. Here, Americans have been at the forefront.

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Written by

David Worboys

Offering a unique insight into everything from politics to food to sport, David is one of the Euro Weekly News´ most popular columnists.